Regulation of Expression of Cannabinoid CB 2 and Serotonin 5HT 1A Receptor Complexes by Cannabinoids in Animal Models of Hypoxia and in Oxygen/Glucose-Deprived Neurons


“Background: Cannabidiol (CBD) is a phytocannabinoid with potential in one of the most prevalent syndromes occurring at birth, the hypoxia of the neonate. CBD targets a variety of proteins, cannabinoid CB2 and serotonin 5HT1A receptors included. These two receptors may interact to form heteromers (CB2-5HT1A-Hets) that are also a target of CBD. 

Aims: We aimed to assess whether the expression and function of CB2-5HT1A-Hets is affected by CBD in animal models of hypoxia of the neonate and in glucose- and oxygen-deprived neurons. 

Methods: We developed a quantitation of signal transduction events in a heterologous system and in glucose/oxygen-deprived neurons. The expression of receptors was assessed by immuno-cyto and -histochemistry and, also, by using the only existing technique to visualize CB2-5HT1A-Hets fixed cultured cells and tissue sections (in situ proximity ligation PLA assay). 

Results: CBD and cannabigerol, which were used for comparative purposes, affected the structure of the heteromer, but in a qualitatively different way; CBD but not CBG increased the affinity of the CB2 and 5HT1A receptor-receptor interaction. Both cannabinoids regulated the effects of CB2 and 5HT1A receptor agonists. CBD was able to revert the upregulation of heteromers occurring when neurons were deprived of oxygen and glucose. CBD significantly reduced the increased expression of the CB2-5HT1A-Het in glucose/oxygen-deprived neurons. Importantly, in brain sections of a hypoxia/ischemia animal model, administration of CBD led to a significant reduction in the expression of CB2-5HT1A-Hets. 

Conclusions: Benefits of CBD in the hypoxia of the neonate are mediated by acting on CB2-5HT1A-Hets and by reducing the aberrant expression of the receptor-receptor complex in hypoxic-ischemic conditions. These results reinforce the potential of CBD for the therapy of the hypoxia of the neonate.”

Cannabidiol Reduces Short- and Long-Term High Glutamate Release after Severe Traumatic Brain Injury and Improves Functional Recovery


“This study aimed to determine if orally administered cannabidiol (CBD) lessens the cortical over-release of glutamate induced by a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) and facilitates functional recovery. The short-term experiment focused on identifying the optimal oral pretreatment of CBD. Male Wistar rats were pretreated with oral administration of CBD (50, 100, or 200 mg/kg) daily for 7 days. Then, extracellular glutamate concentration was estimated by cortical microdialysis before and immediately after a severe TBI. The long-term experiment focused on evaluating the effect of the optimal treatment of CBD (pre- vs. pre- and post-TBI) 30 days after trauma. Sensorimotor function, body weight, and mortality rate were evaluated. In the short term, TBI induced a high release of glutamate (738% ± 173%; p < 0.001 vs. basal).

Oral pretreatment with CBD at all doses tested reduced glutamate concentration but with higher potency at when animals received 100 mg/kg (222 ± 33%, p < 0.01 vs. TBI), an effect associated with a lower mortality rate (22%, p < 0.001 vs. TBI). In the long-term experiment, the TBI group showed a high glutamate concentration (149% p < 0.01 vs. SHAM). In contrast, animals receiving the optimal treatment of CBD (pre- and pre/post-TBI) showed glutamate concentrations like the SHAM group (p > 0.05). This effect was associated with high sensorimotor function improvement. CBD pretreatment, but not pre-/post-treatment, induced a higher body weight gain (39% ± 2.7%, p < 0.01 vs. TBI) and lower mortality rate (22%, p < 0.01 vs. TBI).

These results support that orally administered CBD reduces short- and long-term TBI-induced excitotoxicity and facilitated functional recovery. Indeed, pretreatment with CBD was sufficient to lessen the adverse sequelae of TBI.”

“CBD administration decreases short- and long-term glutamate over-release after severe TBI, an effect associated with improvement of sensorimotor activity and body weight gain, as well as lower mortality. Future studies are essential to elucidate the mechanisms via which CBD exerts these effects and whether other mechanisms, such as antiinflammation, antioxidative stress, and neuroprotection, are involved. Our study suggests a neuroprotective effect of CBD short- and long-term after a severe TBI. These findings support orally administered CBD as a therapeutic strategy to prevent long-term consequences after TBI in the high-risk population, such as military personnel and contact sport athletes. It will also be interesting to determine if CBD neuroprotection is sufficient to prevent the development of long-term disorders following TBI, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and post-traumatic epilepsy.”

Role of 5HT1A Receptors in the Neuroprotective and Behavioral Effects of Cannabidiol in Hypoxic-Ischemic Newborn Piglets

Frontiers announces its first partnership with a leading Chinese University  | STM Publishing News

“Background: Hypoxic-ischemic (HI) insults have important deleterious consequences in newborns, including short-term morbidity with neuromotor and cognitive disturbances. Cannabidiol (CBD) has demonstrated robust neuroprotective effects and shows anxiolytic/antidepressant effects as well. These effects are thought to be related to serotonin 5-HT1A receptor (5HT1AR) activation. We hereby aimed to study the role of 5HT1AR in the neuroprotective and behavioral effects of CBD in HI newborn piglets. 

Methods: 1-day-old piglets submitted to 30 min of hypoxia (FiO2 10%) and bilateral carotid occlusion were then treated daily with vehicle, CBD 1 mg/kg, or CBD with the 5HT1AR antagonist WAY 100635 1 mg/kg 72 h post-HI piglets were studied using amplitude-integrated EEG to detect seizures and a neurobehavioral test to detect neuromotor impairments. In addition, behavioral performance including social interaction, playful activity, hyperlocomotion, and motionless periods was assessed. Then, brain damage was assessed using histology (Nissl and TUNEL staining) and biochemistry (proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy studies. 

Results: HI led to brain damage as assessed by histologic and biochemistry studies, associated with neuromotor impairment and increased seizures. These effects were not observed in HI piglets treated with CBD. These beneficial effects of CBD were not reversed by the 5HT1AR antagonist, which is in contrast with previous studies demonstrating that 5HT1AR antagonists eliminated CBD neuroprotection as assessed 6 h after HI in piglets. HI led to mood disturbances, with decreased social interaction and playfulness and increased hyperlocomotion. Mood disturbances were not observed in piglets treated with CBD, but in this case, coadministration of the 5HT1AR antagonist eliminates the beneficial effects of CBD. 

Conclusion: CBD prevented HI-induced mood disturbances in newborn piglets by acting on 5HT1AR. However, 5HT1AR activation seems to be necessary for CBD neuroprotection only in the first hours after HI.”

“Postinsult CBD administration prevented HI-induced brain damage, and neuromotor deficits and behavioral disturbances. These results indicate that, in addition to its robust neuroprotective effects, CBD could be an interesting candidate to be included in the treatment of HI newborns to mitigate the consequences of stress derived from brain damage and hypothermia treatment.”

Effects of phytocannabinoids on heart rate variability and blood pressure variability in female post-concussion syndrome patients: case series

“Cannabidiol (CBD) can exert neuroprotective effects without being intoxicating, and in combination with Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) CBD has shown to protect against THC psychosis. Acute concussion and post-concussion syndrome (PCS) can result in autonomic dysfunction in heart rate variability (HRV), but less information is available on blood pressure variability (BPV). Furthermore, the effects of phytocannabinoids on HRV and BPV in PCS are unknown. The purpose of this study was to observe the influence of daily administration of CBD or a combination of CBD and THC on HRV and BPV parameters in four female PCS participants. Participants completed a seated 5-min rest followed by six breaths-per-minute paced breathing protocol. Data was collected prior to phytocannabinoid intake and continued over 54 to 70 days. High frequency systolic BPV parameter increased every assessment period, unless altered due to external circumstances and symptoms. HRV parameters showed less consistent and varying responses. These results suggest that CBD can help to improve the altered autonomic dysfunction in those with PCS, and that responses to the drug administration was individualized. Double blinded, randomized controlled trials with greater sample sizes are required to better understand the influences of the varying dosages on human physiology and in PCS.”

Thromboembolic Outcomes in Tetrahydrocannabinol-Positive Trauma Patients With Traumatic Brain Injury

“Introduction: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a significant source of morbidity and mortality in the United States. Recent shifts in state legislation have increased the use of recreational and medical marijuana. While cannabinoids and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) have known anti-inflammatory effects, the impact of preinjury THC use on clinical outcomes in the setting of severe TBI is unknown. We hypothesized that preinjury THC use in trauma patients suffering TBI would be associated with decreased thromboembolic events and adverse outcomes.

Methods: The American College of Surgeons Trauma Quality Improvement Program was used to identify patients aged ≥18 y with TBI and severe injury (Injury Severity Score ≥ 16) in admit year 2017. Patients with smoking or tobacco history or missing or positive toxicology tests for drug and/or alcohol use other than THC were excluded. Propensity score matching was used to compare THC+ patients to similar THC- patients.

Results: A total of 13,266 patients met inclusion criteria, of which 1669 were THC+. A total of 1377 THC+ patients were matched to 1377 THC- patients. No significant differences were found in in-hospital outcomes, including mortality, length of stay, cardiac arrest, pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis, or acute respiratory distress syndrome. No patients had ischemic stroke, and THC+ patients had significantly decreased rates of hemorrhagic stroke (0.5% versus 1.5%, P = 0.02, odds ratio 0.41 [95% confidence interval 0.18-0.86]).

Conclusions: Preinjury THC use may be associated with decreased hemorrhagic stroke in severely injured patients with TBI, but there was no difference in thromboembolic outcomes. Further research into pathophysiological mechanisms related to THC are needed.”

“THC linked to lower hemorrhagic stroke risk in people with traumatic brain injury”

Administration of Δ 9-Tetrahydrocannabinol Following Controlled Cortical Impact Restores Hippocampal-Dependent Working Memory and Locomotor Function

“Hypothesis: Administration of the phytocannabinoid Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) will enhance brain repair and improve short-term spatial working memory in mice following controlled cortical impact (CCI) by upregulating granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) and other neurotrophic factors (brain-derived neurotrophic factor [BDNF], glial-derived neurotrophic factor [GDNF]) in hippocampus (HP), cerebral cortex, and striatum. Results: Δ9-THC-treated mice exhibited marked improvement in performance on the Y-maze indicating that treatment with the phytocannabinoid could reverse the deficit in working memory caused by the CCI. Δ9-THC-treated mice ran on the rotarod longer than vehicle-treated mice and recovered to normal rotarod performance levels at 2 weeks. Δ9-THC-treated mice, compared with vehicle-treated animals, exhibited significant upregulation of G-CSF as well as BDNF and GDNF in the cerebral cortex, striatum, and HP. Levels of 2-AG were also increased in the Δ9-THC-treated mice. Conclusion: Administration of the phytocannabinoid Δ9-THC promotes significant functional recovery from traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the realms of working memory and locomotor function. This beneficial effect is associated with upregulation of brain 2-AG, G-CSF, BDNF, and GDNF. The latter three neurotrophic factors have been previously shown to mediate brain self-repair following TBI and stroke.”

The Endocannabinoid System: A Potential Target for the Treatment of Various Diseases

ijms-logo“The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is primarily responsible for maintaining homeostasis, a balance in internal environment (temperature, mood, and immune system) and energy input and output in living, biological systems.

In addition to regulating physiological processes, the ECS directly influences anxiety, feeding behaviour/appetite, emotional behaviour, depression, nervous functions, neurogenesis, neuroprotection, reward, cognition, learning, memory, pain sensation, fertility, pregnancy, and pre-and post-natal development.

The ECS is also involved in several pathophysiological diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and neurodegenerative diseases. In recent years, genetic and pharmacological manipulation of the ECS has gained significant interest in medicine, research, and drug discovery and development.

The distribution of the components of the ECS system throughout the body, and the physiological/pathophysiological role of the ECS-signalling pathways in many diseases, all offer promising opportunities for the development of novel cannabinergic, cannabimimetic, and cannabinoid-based therapeutic drugs that genetically or pharmacologically modulate the ECS via inhibition of metabolic pathways and/or agonism or antagonism of the receptors of the ECS. This modulation results in the differential expression/activity of the components of the ECS that may be beneficial in the treatment of a number of diseases.

This manuscript in-depth review will investigate the potential of the ECS in the treatment of various diseases, and to put forth the suggestion that many of these secondary metabolites of Cannabis sativa L. (hereafter referred to as “C. sativa L.” or “medical cannabis”), may also have potential as lead compounds in the development of cannabinoid-based pharmaceuticals for a variety of diseases.”


“Cannabis sativa L. as a Natural Drug Meeting the Criteria of a Multitarget Approach to Treatment”

Cannabidiol reduces lesion volume and restores vestibulomotor and cognitive function following moderately severe traumatic brain injury

Experimental Neurology“Despite the high incidence of traumatic brain injury (TBI), there is no universal treatment to safely treat patients. Blunt brain injuries destroy primary neural tissue that results in impaired perfusion, excessive release of glutamate, inflammation, excitotoxicity, and progressive secondary neuronal cell death.

We hypothesized that administration of cannabidiol (CBD) directly to a brain contusion site, will optimize delivery to the injured tissue which will reduce local neural excitation and inflammation to spare neural tissue and improve neurological outcome following TBI.

CBD was infused into a gelfoam matrix forming an implant (CBDi), then applied over the dura at the contusion site as well as delivered systemically by injection (CBD.IP). Post-injury administration of CBDi+IP greatly reduced defecation scores, lesion volume, the loss of neurons in the ipsilateral hippocampus, the number of injured neurons of the contralateral hippocampus, and reversed TBI-induced glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) upregulation which was superior to either CBD.IP or CBDi treatment alone.

Vestibulomotor performance on the beam-balance test was restored by 12 days post-TBI and sustained through 28 days. CBDi+IP treated rats exhibited preinjury levels of spontaneous alternation on the spontaneous alternation T-maze. In the object recognition test, they had greater mobility and exploration of novel objects compared to contusion or implant alone consistent with reduced anxiety and restored cognitive function.

These results suggest that dual therapy by targeting the site of injury internally with a CBD-infused medical carrier followed by systemic supplementation may offer a more effective countermeasure than systemic or implant treatment alone for the deleterious effects of penetrating head wounds.”

“CBD improved vestibulomotor function and learning and memory cognitive performance post-TBI. Local delivery at the contusion site and systemic injection of CBD reduced TBI-induced lesion volume. Dual treatment, direct and systemic CBD, is superior to single treatment.”

Recovery from Traumatic Brain Injury Following Treatment with Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol Is Associated with Increased Expression of Granulocyte-Colony Stimulating Factor and Other Neurotrophic Factors

View details for Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research cover image“The hematopoietic cytokine granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) is well known to stimulate proliferation of blood stem/progenitor cells of the leukocyte lineage, but is also recognized as a neurotrophic factor involved in brain self-repair processes. G-CSF administration has been shown to promote recovery from experimental models of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and to modulate components of the endocannabinoid system (eCS). Conversely, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9THC) treatment of normal mice has been shown to increase blood levels of G-CSF in the periphery. 

Hypothesis: Administration of the phytocannabinoid Δ9THC will enhance brain repair following controlled cortical impact (CCI) by upregulating G-CSF and other neurotrophic factors (brain-derived neurotrophic factor [BDNF] and glial-derived neurotrophic factor [GDNF]) in brain regions. 

Materials and Methods: C57BL/6J mice underwent CCI and were treated for 3 days with THC 3 mg/kg intraperitoneally. Motor function on a rotarod was recorded at baseline and 3, 7, and 14 days after CCI. Groups of mice were euthanized at 7 and 14 days. G-CSF, BDNF, and GDNF expression were measured at 7 and 14 days in cerebral cortex, striatum, and hippocampus on the side of the trauma. 

Results: Δ9THC-treated mice ran on the rotarod longer than vehicle-treated mice and recovered to normal rotarod performance levels at 2 weeks. These mice, compared to vehicle-treated animals, exhibited significant upregulation of G-CSF as well as BDNF and GDNF in cerebral cortex, striatum, and hippocampus. 

Conclusion: Administration of the phytocannabinoid Δ9THC promotes significant recovery from TBI and is associated with upregulation of brain G-CSF, BDNF, and GDNF, neurotrophic factors previously shown to mediate brain self-repair following TBI and stroke.”

Use of Medical Cannabis to Treat Traumatic Brain Injury

View details for Journal of Neurotrauma cover image“There is not a single pharmacological agent with demonstrated therapeutic efficacy for traumatic brain injury (TBI). With recent legalization efforts and the growing popularity of medical cannabis, patients with TBI will inevitably consider medical cannabis as a treatment option.

Preclinical TBI research suggests cannabinoids have neuroprotective and psychotherapeutic properties.

Our review identified a paucity of high-quality studies examining the beneficial and adverse effects of medical cannabis on traumatic brain injury, with only a single Phase III randomized control trial. However, observational studies demonstrate that TBI patients are using medical and recreational cannabis to treat their symptoms, highlighting inconsistencies between public policy, perception of potential efficacy, and the dearth of empirical evidence.

We conclude that randomized controlled trials and prospective studies with appropriate control groups are necessary to fully understand the efficacy and potential adverse effects of medical cannabis for TBI.”